My fan-fiction on wattpad #1

cover_girlnight3_2by3Those of you who follow my blog know that I’ve been struggling with my first ever fan-fiction story. I finally finished it. It is a story based on Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe.

I love Wen Spencer’s writing – she is one of my favorite urban fantasy writers – and I’ve read and enjoyed everything she has written. Her Elfhome universe, the location of her latest series that started with Tinker, has fascinated me from the beginning. The novels blend seamlessly urban fantasy and science fiction, elves and space travels, and their characters are some of the most intriguing folks in both genres. As a tribute to the author, I decided to write a story set in her universe, although the heroes and setting are my own. My story, Five Days of Elf, takes place soon after Tinker ended. The entire story unfolds in Vancouver, Canada.

In the beginning of Five Days of Elf, Lisa, a film school student, attends a local Shakespearean festival. As soon as the performance is over, a gun-toting terrorist  hops onto the stage and starts shooting actors and audience. Lisa could’ve been killed, if not for a young man in a gray turban who risks his life stopping the shooter.

The story comes in 5 parts. I’ve started posting it on wattpad. Part 1 is already there.

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November 2016 report

DoYouHaveGoalsIt is time again for the monthly blog hop Do You Have Goals, hosted by Misha Gericke and Beth Fred. Here is what’s happened with my writing since the last update.

Short stories

Not much is happening on this front. No new acceptances or new rejections. I’m almost done with my fanfiction story, set in Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe. It unfolded slowly and came out longer than I expected, more of a novelette. I’m still debating inside whether I should post it as fanfiction on my wattpad page or tweak the little details that connect it to Wen Spencer’s world and submit it somewhere or publish it as an original story. Those changes wouldn’t be extensive. I didn’t use any of the author’s copyrighted characters, and all the action takes place in Vancouver, Canada – my home city – while Ms. Spencer’s novels take place in Pittsburg, USA.

One of my short fantasy stories, Tail to Treasure, a tale about a young monkey-shifter hunting for a forgotten treasure in the jungle, has been published in the November issue of Bloodbond. It is a print magazine, and I’m supposed to receive one contributor’s copy, but I guess the mailing of the magazine takes time. Haven’t received it yet.

Novellas

My steampunk novelette Open, Charlie is complete on wattpad. There are not many readers yet, but I’m hopeful. For those who were waiting to read it until it was fully posted, here is the link to Chapter One.

My regency novella Fibs in the Family on wattpad is doing very well. It has topped 13K readers, and the numbers keep climbing.

Non-fiction

Wrote three articles for my newspaper. The fourth one this month is in the works and should be ready by Sunday – my deadline.

Art projects

This is my favorite part of the report. I keep trying to make book covers for stories on wattpad, but this month, nothing was accepted by the writers. I’m still learning the craft of cover design and I enjoy the process, so that’s all good.

Made a badge for the December challenge hosted by the WEP websiteUtopian Dreams. If you’d like to participate, logon to the website on Dec 1 and sign up. The posting day is Dec 21. Those challenges are exciting. As a base for the badge, I used one of the ready photo artworks by Alan Ayers.

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Another of my art projects this month was a Bingo card for romance reading on BookLikes. A bunch of us, romance lovers, are going to participate in this project in 2017, starting January. I participated in other Bingo readings on BL, and it was fun. I loved creating this card.

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Goals for December

  • Resume working on my second regency novella.
  • Finish my fanfiction short story, set in Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe, and do something about it.
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Fanfiction

IWSG_NewBadge2016It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
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The IWSG question this month: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

My answer: Hard to tell. I love most aspects of being a writer. I love the freedom to daydream, the ability to turn my dreams into stories, the readers’ reaction to my stories. I love writing the first draft and the revising stage. I love my heroes. It would be easier to say what my least favorite aspect is: marketing and sales. I’m struggling to sell my short stories to magazines, and nobody buys my novels, but my free novella on wattpad, Fibs in the Family, has a life of its own. It’s already climbed over 11,000 readers, and the numbers are rising steadily. And I don’t do anything about it. Perhaps, releasing free fiction on Amazon is the way to go for me?
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My post for this IWSG Wednesday is connected in some way to my answer above. Lately, I have been writing a short story belonging to another writer’s universe. It is my first attempt at fanfiction. I love the novels set in that universe; they inspire me. So I’m trying my hand at this quirky subgenre, and like any novice, I’m struggling with various issues.

One of those issues is: what do I do with the story when it is done? Granted, there are some websites dedicated to fanfiction and I could post the story there. Do I want to?

In my story, I don’t use any of the leading or even secondary characters the original writer wrote. I have my own characters exploring the universe I’m interested in, playing in one of its corners the original writer never highlighted and never populated. Perhaps I could alter a few telltale details and make it my own original story? Neither the plot nor the characters will be impacted much by such a change; it will be purely cosmetic. Of course, some similarity to the original milieu will remain, but if I’m careful, the setting would become almost unrecognizable. Do I want to go that route?

What do you do when you face such a quandary? Do you write fanfiction at all? Is fanfiction a sort of plagiarism, a lazy writing, or a tribute to an admired author? Should I abandon the story? Keep going and post it on wattpad? Turn it around into something truly original? What is your take on fanfiction?

 

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October report

DoYouHaveGoalsIt is time again for the monthly blog hop Do You Have Goals, hosted by Misha Gericke and Beth Fred. Here is what’s happened with my writing since the last update.

Short stories

Several stories rejected and resubmitted. No new acceptances or new publications. Finished my fantasy story for the IWSG anthology and submitted it. Still working on my fanfiction story, set in Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe.

Novellas

I’ve finished revising my novelette Open, Charlie and started posting it on wattpad. So far, I’ve posted 5 chapters. Open, Charlie is a steampunk-ish story set in America at the beginning of the 20th century. It features a brave eighteen-year-old girl Charlie, gifted with metal magic, a dirigible, and a handsome stage magician. Love is in the air for Charlie… if she could escape her evil stepfather’s clutches. Here is a link to Chapter One.

My regency novella Fibs in the Family on wattpad is doing very well. It gets new readers every time I check. By now, it has over 11,000 reads and more than 700 likes.

Non-fiction

Wrote a memoir essay for the blog hop Constellations about my childhood, tomatoes, and a train trip. Here it is: https://olgagodim.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/tomato-train/. Got quite a few comments. What surprised me in those comments was that while I intended the story as an entertaining interlude, most readers’ reaction could be summed up with a phrase: “How horrible for you!” I’m glad my story inspired some emotional response, but it was not what I expected.

Art projects

October was a good month for my art projects. I created a map/schedule of the dirigible flights for Open, Charlie. Added it to Chapter Four on wattpad. Click on the map to see a larger image.

Also made an alternative cover for Open, Charlie. Added it to Chapter Five on wattpad.

Created a couple book covers for other wattpad writers. One is a sci-fi story about an android. Another an epistolary romance. Both were accepted by the writers, which makes me proud.  I’m still learning the craft of book cover design, so every acceptance counts.

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Goals for November

  • Resume working on my second regency novella.
  • Finish my fan fiction short story, set in Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe, and publish it on wattpad.

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Open, Charlie on wattpad – chapter 4 and 5

I posted Chapters Four and Five of my steampunk novella Open, Charlie on Wattpad. In these chapters, Charlie flies a dirigible with her new friend Mary. They are heading to Denver, but troubles follow Charlie even into the sky. Chapter Four is here.

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Eighteen-year-old Charlie is running away from her criminal stepfather, a New York gang boss. For five long years, he has been forcing her to use her magical abilities to open bank vaults and safe boxes. Charlie wants to escape his brutal rule but where in America would she be safe from his ruthless avarice?
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Besides the text of the new chapters, I also posted a schedule and map of the dirigible company on wattpad and I want to display it here too. Such schedules hang in every dirigible terminal in America.

I also provided an alternative cover for the novella, but you’ll have to read Chapter Five to see it.

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Tomato train

When Yolanda Renee and Denise Covey, the hosts of the WEP website, settled on the two themes for our October blog hop – Constellations or Halloween – at first I thought to opt out. I didn’t want to write anything obvious and didn’t have any original ideas. Then I remembered something that happened long ago, when I was a schoolgirl. By a strange coincidence, there is a constellation in this story, although it has nothing to do with stars or Greek myths. It is all about tomatoes.
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When I was a child in the 1960s, my family lived in Moscow, Russia. Both my parents worked full time, so finding a good summer camp for their daughter was an ongoing concern. Most camps were in the Moscow suburbs, and every summer, when my parents did send me to a summer camp, I hated it. I’ve always disliked crowds, parties, and organized entertainment. I’ve never been a tin soldier, never fit well among my peers. Making friends has always been a chore for me. I usually preferred to stay home alone, snuggle on my sofa, and read a book – the activity not encouraged in a camp.

The year I turned 12 my dad worked for a prestigious government ministry, and the organization had an excellent summer camp for its employees’ children on the shore of the Black Sea. When my dad asked if I wanted to go, I agreed. It would be the first time for me on the Black Sea, and I was excited. I thought that a camp on a seashore would be different, that I’d like the adventure and the sea.

I was wrong. Despite the sea and the sun, I hated the camp, the same as any other camp I’d ever been to, with one serious difference. It was far away from Moscow, so my parents couldn’t visit on the weekends. And the term was longer, six weeks instead of the usual three.

I started sending teary letters to my parents on the first week of camp, begging them to get me back home. When they, upset by my letters, called the camp office and asked to speak to me (no cell phones or emails in those times) I cried on the phone and pleaded with them.

Eventually they folded. About three weeks into the camp, they bought me a train ticket to Moscow – air travels were too expensive then. The camp supervisor took me to the train station and watched me boarding the train. My parents would be meeting me in Moscow.

I was ecstatic to be going home and to travel by myself for the first time in my life. The trip to Moscow took two nights and one day. Fortunately, my ticket was for a good sleeper coach, with a row of closed compartments along a long corridor. I saw a similar one in the movie Murder on the Orient Express, based on Agatha Christie’s novel. Each compartment had four sleeping banks, two on the top level and two on the bottom; the latter serving as seats during the day.

tomatovine1My companions in the compartment were three middle-aged men, all traveling alone. Two of them didn’t pay me much attention. By comparison, the third one, a big swarthy fellow from Georgia, was very friendly. He was traveling to Moscow to sell his tomatoes in the Moscow markets. He told me that his tomatoes were of the most delicious sort, called Constellation, because they grew in big clusters. He had boxes of them stashed someplace on the train.

Whenever I settled on my lower bank during the day, to read or gaze out the window, he would be there too, chatting amicably, telling stories, making me laugh, and occasionally touching my bare knees or caressing my ankles. It was hot on the train, and I wore shorts. Both other men spent most of the day out of the stuffy compartment, but I had nowhere to go.

The Georgian tomato seller obviously liked my bare legs, and although I disliked his touch, I was a naive 12-year-old, very polite and timid, and I couldn’t say “No” to such an amusing man as old as my father. I squirmed, tried to conceal my revulsion, and endured his grabby hands. In the evening, the two other men came back, so nothing happened. I guess I was lucky.

When we arrived in Moscow in the morning of the second day, my parents came to my compartment to get me. The Georgian guy instantly made friends with my dad, and dad even helped him unload his Constellation tomatoes, boxes and boxes of them.

When we finally got home, I was happy. I also told my mother about the Georgian guy touching my knees. I wasn’t complaining exactly, it was more like a shameful question: was it normal? Should I have said anything? Done anything?

She was horrified, much more than I was, probably because she could well picture what could’ve been, while I couldn’t. She instantly shared her disgust with my dad. He went ballistic. “You should’ve told me right away,” he fumed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this furious, before or after. “I helped that scoundrel to unload his Constellations. I should’ve painted the constellations on his face. I should’ve smashed all his boxes and all his tomatoes, and his nose too. The cad! I should’ve beaten him bloody.”

I was scared of my father that day, even though he wasn’t angry with me. I think this tiny incident stuck in my memory not because of the guy touching my knees – I would’ve forgotten it in a few years – but because of my parents’ explosive reaction. I really understood it only years later.

By the mutual agreement between me and my parents, I’ve never gone to any summer camp again.
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Word count: 900; FCA (Full Critique Acceptable)

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Open, Charlie on wattpad – chapter 2 & 3

I posted chapters 2 and 3 of my steampunk novella Open, Charlie on Wattpad. In these chapters, Charlie stops her flight for a breather in Chicago. She is meeting new people and making new friends. The second chapter is here.

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Eighteen-year-old Charlie is running away from her criminal stepfather, a New York gang boss. For five long years, he has been forcing her to use her magical abilities to open bank vaults and safe boxes. Charlie wants to escape his brutal rule but where in America would she be safe from his ruthless avarice?
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The next couple chapters will have Charlie fly a dirigible. Watch for the announcement to the dirigibles’ schedules and routes here.

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Open, Charlie on wattpad – chapter 1

I started publishing my steampunk novella Open, Charlie on Wattpad. A story in the vein of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, it includes a girl, a dirigible, magic, suspense, and the beginning of romance. It takes place in America at the turn of the 20th century. The first chapter is live here.

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Eighteen-year-old Charlie is running away from her criminal stepfather, a New York gang boss. For five long years, he has been forcing her to use her magical abilities to open bank vaults and safe boxes. Charlie wants to escape his brutal rule but where in America would she be safe from his ruthless avarice?
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I’ll try to publish regularly, at least once a week. The story is 7 chapters long, so it’ll take me close to 2 months to publish it all. I’ll also follow the wattpad trend and include some visuals in my future chapters, to nourish my readers’ imagination.

Enjoy.

 

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Of names and pseudonyms

IWSG_NewBadge2016It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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The IWSG question this month: When do you know your story is ready?

My answer: That’s a thousand dollar question. I’m sure everyone will have their own answer, but for me, a story is ready when I read it through one last time and don’t want to change anything, not a word. It’s mostly intuitive. I read the prose and try to listen to it with my inner ear. Is the word choice right? Are the sentences too clunky? Is a paragraph too long? Some short stories of mine take five or six revisions before they reach that point, and that is after the structure of the story is finalized. I don’t even want to talk about novels. Those take even longer.
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And now, to my proper post, something that’s been bothering me lately. Some of you may know that Olga Godim is my pen name, not my legal name. Olga is my real-life name, but Godim was my father’s first name. He died over 20 years ago. When I first started submitting stories to publishers, in 2007, I decided to use a pseudonym, and took my father’s given name for my alias. All my fiction publications since then have been by Olga Godim.

nametagAt the time, I did it because I’ve always been shy. I was embarrassed to admit to anyone, especially to my relatives and colleagues, that I was writing fantasy fiction. It sounds odd, I know, but I was already almost 50 years old when I started, so it was, perhaps, understandable. I wouldn’t have made the same decision today but I don’t regret the choice of name I made then. In a way, it allows my long-gone father to be a part of my writing life.

Strangely, I recently began identifying with this name much more than with my legal name. I use Olga Godim in social media too. My website, my BookLikes and GoodReads accounts, my Twitter, and even my Flickr and Pinterest art collections, they all use this name. Most of the time, I feel much more an Olga Godim than the name I was born with. I even contemplated for a spell changing my legal name, but the troubling thought of changing all my documents and credit cards stopped me.

I use my legal name too, in my journalistic work – as the byline for my newspaper articles – but increasingly, it feels more and more distant, even a bit hazy. I’m becoming Olga Godim, a persona I invented, as if my mask is taking over, and I’m happy to let it. Isn’t it weird?

Does anyone who uses a literary pseudonym encounter the same paradox, or am I alone in this peculiar personality split? Am I Olga Godim or am I not? Are there two of me? It certainly feels this way, because Olga Godim is much wiser than my legal alter-ego has ever been. Olga Godim also has many more friends (online only, but still). I like her much better too. So who am I?

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Grave Escape published

As I mentioned before, my fantasy story Grave Escape was released by Bards and Sages Quarterly, as part of their series The Society of Misfit Stories. I have the link now.

Here is the blurb from Amazon:
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How far would you go for your freedom? Two young women, desperate to escape the oppression of those who torture them in order to harness their magical powers, engage in a desperate escape attempt. But when the path to freedom goes through long-forgotten crypts, the destination leads to unexpected revelations.
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The story is sold as a Kindle Single for $0.98 and is available as part of Kindle Unlimited. You could buy it here.

It is also eligible for their 2016 Reader’s Choice Award poll as a Favorite Misfit. If you would like to vote for my story, go to their poll page, scroll down to the Favorite “Misfit” section, and click on my name. Thank you.

Note #1: I have a very good experience with this magazine. They have another story of mine accepted for publication some time in 2017.

Note #2: When I write my stories, I always start with a visual. As soon as I have an idea for a story, I scour my collection of classical art for an appropriate image and make a cover for the story. For some reason, it helps me write it. I have a cover for this story too and I offered it to the publisher, but they rejected it. They want continuity with all the stories in the Misfit series, so all the covers look alike, only the author names and titles are different. But I want to offer you my own cover here. I like it better.

my cover image

Painting by Emile Auguste Hublin

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